Reggie Thomas: A ‘Fisher of Men’ for 65 Years
By Victor Knowles
Reggie Thomas is one of the national treasures of the Christian churches and churches of Christ. Few men in this fellowship have preached as long or enjoyed such results to their preaching as Reggie Thomas.
December 5, 2010, marked the 65th anniversary of his first sermon. Only a select few have ever reached this milestone.
Reggie was born to A. R. and Florence Thomas on January 8, 1929, in Joplin, Missouri. When he was 8, he made the Good Confession and was baptized into Christ at South Joplin Christian Church. In 1943, during the middle of World War II, the Thomas family relocated to Miami, Oklahoma, and became members of First Christian Church. The minister, Russ Martin, a graduate of Cincinnati Bible Seminary, had a tremendous influence on Reggie.
When he was 16, Reggie dedicated his life to full-time Christian service; he preached his first sermon on December 5, 1945. During his junior and senior years of high school, Reggie preached every Sunday at North Miami Christian Church. He was the first of 71 Timothies ordained by First Christian Church of Miami.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Reggie enrolled at Cincinnati (Ohio) Bible Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University). While a student he preached for two Ohio congregations: the Church of Christ at Sugar Tree Ridge and the Christian Church at Higginsport. He received a BA from CBS in 1951 and immediately began full-time evangelism, baptizing thousands in revival meetings across the land from 1951 to 1955.
Reggie’s first full-time ministry was with the Catlin (Illinois) Church of Christ. During his years there, 1955-61, a new church building was erected, and the congregation grew from 225 to 560 people. He was then called to East Point (Georgia) Christian Church, where from 1961 to 1966 the congregation grew from 500 members to 812.
In 1966, Reggie founded White Fields Overseas Evangelism, and since that time he has established 671 churches in 82 nations. From 1977 to 1987 he preached for Hickory Valley Christian Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The congregation generously allowed him to continue his work with White Fields, and even provided office space for the ministry.
Today Reggie continues his work as executive director of White Fields Overseas Evangelism in Joplin, Missouri. White Fields supports 377 native evangelists around the world. The ministry also supports seven orphanages. Perhaps most importantly, Reggie has seen 335,458 souls baptized into Christ as a result of his preaching the gospel. His brother, Ed, and sister, Barbara, have joined him on many of his campaigns.
Reggie considers Romans 1:16 to be his life motto: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
“Reggie is amazing,” says Joe R. Garman, founder and president of American Rehabilitation Ministries, also located in Joplin. “His untiring efforts have resulted in a harvest of souls—hundreds of thousands of men, women, boys, and girls have accepted Christ under his preaching; hundreds more have become ministers and missionaries around the world. His influence for Christ is immeasurable.”
In addition to his work with White Fields, Reggie serves as an elder with Villa Heights Christian Church in Joplin. He and his wife, Esther, are pleased that four of their children are in full-time ministry, and four of their grandchildren are preparing to be missionaries.
Reggie has authored two books, both published by College Press: My Favorite Revival Sermons and My Favorite Missionary Sermons. He has spoken at the North American Christian Convention, National Missionary Convention, Kiamichi Clinic, National Prayer Clinic, Hillsboro Family Camp, and other Bible conferences.
For Reggie’s 70th birthday, I wrote a poem in his honor, “The Man Who Won’t Stop Fishing.” That is Reggie Thomas. Now 81, this remarkable soul-winner continues to be a tireless “fisher of men.”
Victor Knowles is founder and director of Peace on Earth Ministries, Joplin, Missouri. Contact Reggie Thomas at White Fields Overseas Evangelism, P.O. Box 1090, Joplin, MO 64802-1090, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.